Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Two American Hikers Finally Freed After Iran Receives $1 Million 'Bail'

American hikers Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer were finally released from Teheran's notorious Evin prison today after two years of imprisonment on espionage charges.

The pair were flown to Oman after a 'bail' of $500,000 apiece was paid to the Iranian government, which then commuted their sentences and will keep the money. In most circles, this would be referred to as paying ransom to kidnappers.

The families were there to greet the two released captives.

"Today can only be described as the best day of our lives," the families said in a statement. "We have waited for nearly 26 months for this moment and the joy and relief we feel at Shane and Josh's long-awaited freedom knows no bounds.

"We now all want nothing more than to wrap Shane and Josh in our arms, catch up on two lost years and make a new beginning, for them and for all of us."

Fattal and Bauer were arrested along with Sarah Shourd, Bauer's girl friend a little over two years ago when they accidentally strayed over the unmarked border with Kurdistan into Iran while on a trip in the region. Shourd was released a year ago on medical grounds...after paying a similar $500,000 'bail' of course.

The idea that these three were spies were absolutely ludicrous. None of them are fluent in Farsi (although Bauer speaks Arabic and is reportedly an Arabophile), were carrying none of the sort of advanced photographic or communications gear you would expect spies to have. And the trio were conducting their trip on a shoestring, staying in budget accommodations.

Another factor ruling out their being spies was that all three unreservedly `anti-Zionist', solidly pro-Palestinian and on the far, far Left to the point of almost being cartoonish. They also happened to be Jews, something I'm sure had a lot to do with their arrest and sentencing.

According to what the Iranian lawyer for Fattal and Bauer, Masoud Shafiee, told CNN, the $1 million 'bail' was paid by the Omani government, as was the $500,000 for Shourd. Since there's no rational reason for Oman to do so, what that means essentially is that the US government paid Iran a cool $1.5 mil in ransom money to get these three released, but used Oman as a conduit to avoid the appearance of dealing directly with Iran.

I'm certainly glad to see these people released from the clutches of the Mullahs, but I also remember when we had a very different policy towards Muslim states who kidnapped Americans.

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B.Poster said...

I'm familar with the Barbary pirates, however, it is interesting to read about them again and even informing, however, a comaprison of them to Iran or the current situation that America faces compared with the situation America faced in the early 19th century is an apples to oranges comparison. For starters Iran of the second decade of the 21st century, is not the same country as the pirate states were in the early 19th century. Also, America of the second decade of the 21st century is not the same country as America of the early 19th century was.

A couple of glaring differences between that situation of the early 19th centruy and today's situation are Iran has the backing of Russia and China the world's most powerful and second most powerful militaries respectively. As long as Iran has this backing, any kind of military action by America is impossible and even if implemented has no real chance of success.

Also, the generally accepted narrative around the world on America's relations with Iran goes back to the coup against the Iranian government in the early 1950s. Essentially America overthrew a harmless government that only wanted peace and the right not to have their oil stolen. As such, Iran is fully justified in its opposition to America and should Iran harm America it is because America "had it coming." I'm NOT suggesting I agree with the narraitve. For the record, I think things are likely more complicated than the narrative would tend to suggest. I'm simply pointing out that it is the narrative and if we are going to get the kind of support we need for an effective confrontation with Iran we are going to need to do something to address and change this narrative on the conflict with Iran.

We have a different media environment today than we did in the early 19th century. The American and internationl news media have worked tirelessly to undercut any type of military option America may have once had against Iran. This all goes back to the narrative on the conflict. Which, if we are to successfully confront Iran, we will need to take significant steps to alter this narrative.

Some type of coaltion against Iran may be possible right now but America cannot lead it. It comes back to the narrative. Even such a coaltion is a long shot at best.

For now, the best analogy to this would be Iran is a very bad neighborhood where Americans simply are not welcome right now. In America there are some neighborhoods where one does not want to be caught out after dark and someone not from the neighborhood does not really want to pass through unless escorted by someone of the neighborhood. Also, police really don't like to tread in such meighborhoods. As such, if one finds themselves in trouble they very well may be on their own.

Tying this into America's relations with Iran, we should probably try as much as possible to minimize interactions. In instances where we may fidn ourselves in close proximity to their interests, we should ensure we are defended well enough that they will find us an uninviting target and look elsewhere. Also, should Americans feel compelled to take a grand Iranian adventure as these folks apparently did the US government should make it abundantly clear that in the future you WILL NOT be ransomed!!

While this may not be the optimal solution for now it is rally about the best we can do.

Rosey said...

Dear Mr. Poster,
Again you underestimate the US military. We can wipe off the face of the earth anyone. China, Russia and certainly Iran before Noon. We simply do not have the political will in Congress, nor probably among the increasingly liberal American public. But we do have the firepower without a doubt. Reference my lesson on submarines.